No one could imagine your pain when the twins died.

How could you fulfil your destiny as a great Mughal emperor, if you had no heir? You travelled to Sikri, the remote village west of Agra, to consult the Sufi hermit Chishti. 

‘You must have faith, Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar,’ he said. Soon after, Jodha Bai, your Hindu Queen, gave birth to a son. Your joy knew no bounds; you would honour Chishti; you would build a great city at auspicious Sikri. It would be your new capital. 

You oversaw the planning personally, creating a delightful arrangement of squares and bazaars around a silver lake. In just five years Fatehpur Sikri was complete. You invited representatives from all religions to debate in your city. You made great advances in administration, creating fairer laws. 

The city swelled and prospered. It was a golden age. The caravanserais were so packed that visiting Portuguese priests complained about the noise. 

But in just fifteen years the land around the city was exhausted. The lake became dry. In 1585 you moved your capital to Delhi, leaving Fatehpur Sikri to decay. All that remains is your crumbling palace and the Great Mosque, the silent home of the reclusive Chishti’s tomb. 

Fatehpur Sikri

Alex Harvie

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